'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' - Movie Review

Updated: Nov 24, 2016, 10:06 IST | Johnson Thomas

What stays with you in 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' is the haunting plight of the American War hero caught up in a head-spinning whorl of prepackaged patriotism that venerates collated heroism while demanding jingoistic certitude

'Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk'
A; War-drama
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Joe Alwyn, Chris Tucker, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, Laura Lundy Wheale, Arturo Castro, Makenzie Leigh
Rating: 

‘Life of Pi’ Ang Lee tries his hand at a psychological portrayal about a team of heroic soldiers returning home from warzone Iraq to a demanding curriculum of appearances and discussions for a movie bio, while still in the throes of Post Traumatic Stress disorder. And it’s distinctive and detailed but not exactly strong on emotional heft.

Based on the widely-acclaimed, bestselling 2012 novel by Ben Fountain, this film is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, designated heroes after a harrowing Iraq battle, come home temporarily for a victory tour. Director Ang Lee uses flashbacks, to contrast the present American perception with past realities while converging at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game. The reality of course is not as glorious as what the media and the pop-patriotic make it out to be.

Ang Lee's Indian influence, probably a hangover from 'Life of Pi,' has him making fleeting references to the Krishna-Arjuna tandem from The Mahabharata while having the leader of the squad (Vin Diesel) exhibit 'Ganesha' friendliness. But the flimsy intent doesn't quite gel with the narrative.

In 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk', Ang Lee employs advanced techniques in the hope that the experience will be that much stronger. Unfortunately the groundbreaking combination of 4K resolution and 3D at 120 frames-per-second (for the first time in screen history), which is five times the standard speed, doesn’t quite work in that favor. It’s not likely that this sort of augmented experience could be translated on screens ill-quipped for exhibition in the above-mentioned specs. Also the preview show was in normal mode so the experience of the new age technology was muted at best. Even so, while the picture quality was excellent and particularly sharp and the close-ups exceptionally penetrating, the overwhelming use of them makes the experience feel a little overdone. The technical innovations felt conspicuous and hyper-real.

What stays with you though, is the haunting plight of the American War hero caught up in a head-spinning whorl of prepackaged patriotism that venerates collated heroism while demanding jingoistic certitude. Performances are good no doubt but the alienation brought on by technology makes it tough going. Absorbing but not wholly involving!

Watch trailer of 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk':

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